As a college student, it’s inevitable that some weeks will be busier than others. Taking classes while working and/or caring for a family can make for a hectic schedule, and it can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t have a plan in place.
Fortunately, with the right approach and proper time management, you can learn to conquer a busy week with ease. Follow these tips to reduce stress and make your busy weeks more manageable.
1. Determine your priorities
Learning how to prioritize your academic demands with your personal life will make it easier for you to manage busier periods. Your personal priorities typically fall into three main categories:
- Essential priorities, such as your own health and well-being and the health of your family. These are your number one priorities, and not much else should take precedence over them.
- Important priorities, which are tied to your essential responsibilities, like school and work. These are tasks that cannot be avoided or pushed to the side just because there is some other leisurely activity you would rather do instead.
- Optional priorities, which are activities you wish to participate in for personal fulfillment only. Reading a book, surfing the web or watching TV are examples of optional priorities. These should be completed only after all other family, school or work commitments are already taken care of for the day.
2. Reorganize your to-do list
Create a list of everything that you need to accomplish in the week ahead, and then go back and prioritize those items based on importance. This will help you visually plan out your time. There might be some less-important items that you just can’t get to, and that’s okay. You want to make sure you have enough time for your essential and important priorities, such as work, school and your family.
3. Plan ahead
If you have several large assignments to work on in one week, it might help you to break them down into smaller parts. Rather than spending several hours studying the night before an exam, spend 30 minutes to an hour each day of the week leading up to the exam. This approach allows for more flexibility in your schedule and also makes large tasks seem more manageable. Be sure to plan out when you are going to work on each assignment so that you are able to hold yourself accountable for your deadlines.
4. Create a study space for yourself
Having a designated study space for yourself, whether it’s a kitchen table or the local library, is important to stay focused. A messy environment is not conducive to productivity, so do yourself a favor and organize your space before the week even begins. Check out our tips for creating the perfect study environment.
5. Limit screen time and social media use
Your phone can be a huge distraction. Help yourself be more efficient by turning off your phone while you are doing schoolwork. If it helps, set aside some time during the day to do a little phone surfing as a way to relax and break up your workload.
6. Remember that it is okay to say “NO”
A large part of prioritizing is learning to say “no” to certain activities. Say that there is a big sporting event going on one night, but you had previously blocked out that time to work on a paper that is due at the end of the week. As much as you want to participate, remind yourself that you don’t have to be present at every event and that your own success should always come first. In most cases, there will be another opportunity to participate in the future.
7. Don’t neglect time for self-care
Self-care is crucial to your health and productivity. Maintaining a healthy diet and a consistent sleep schedule as well as getting regular exercise are elements of self-care that should never be sacrificed due to a busy week. If they are, that behavior can quickly become self-destructive, potentially affecting both your mental and physical health.
One way to avoid burnout is to give yourself a few minutes of downtime each day to do an activity you enjoy. Going for a run, reading an article, or listening to music are all ways that you can reset and refresh your mind. You’ll probably feel much better and will be more focused and productive as a result.
With just a few positive lifestyle changes, you can be productive on even your busiest days. Fitting it all in can be difficult at times, but it is not impossible if you find the right routine and commit yourself to plan ahead.